Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

This year Elena and Clara started thinking of costumes for Halloween way back on their birthday. They wanted a costume party. Clara begged for a werewolf costume, which we bought with the understanding that she'd also wear it for Halloween. Elena wanted to dress up as a pop star. You might recall that when their birthday rolled around they both dressed as Irish dancers instead. Fast forward to tonight - a not-too-dark, not-too-stormy night.
But, because it's autumn, it was still just the right amount of spooky. 

 And it was made spookier by the fact that Elena decided to ditch the pop star outfit and use dress-up materials we had to be a vampire.  Clara did wear her werewolf outfit, but decided against the mask.  And so we had fun with facepaint and spookified the night even more.
Ferocious, double-set-of-teeth werewolf.
A very-terrifyingly posed Elena (really, she was freaking us out with how she kept doing this!).
And a growly, scowly witch.  It seemed to round out the old-school Halloween characters we had going on. 

Steve opted out of dress up to instead be our photographer.

We walked down the street to a friend's house for a fantastic Halloween party.

With TONS of kids.  It was hard to keep track of how many there were.

After trying to round them all up for pictures we headed to the streets.  We made quite pack!  It was so joyous to see them running with their friends in the dusk, feeling confident in their neighborhood and secure in their lives.  The candy part of Halloween can get crazy, but going to say hi to people door to door pretty much rocks.

Now we're all ready for bed.  Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 21, 2013


This weekend we went to our favorite local farm to get pumpkins.
There was a lot of enthusiasm over which one to pick.
This is Clara's face when...
Steve suggests she choose this pumpkin!
And here is her comeback to him:
In reality, she ended up choosing the largest pumpkin there!
It wouldn't even fit in this spot under the cart.  Elena graciously moved her pumpkin from up top to make room for her sister's, and we rolled merrily out of there, scoring some squash and pumpkins on our way out.
Annual family picture:
Elena requested a picture of her cuddling her pumpkin (and yes, there is always a lock of hair in her eyes, and no, we have no idea why!  It always comes from a new place!).
Of course Clara wanted the same picture once she saw Elena doing it.

After we got home we had some dinner and decided on the spur of the moment that it was perfect weather to build a fire and roast marshmallows.  So we all had s'mores for dessert.

Fall is certainly here!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We are still working out some tricks for uploading videos - those referred to here should show up soon!

  This spring Elena and Clara made huge strides in their bike riding.  While they've loved their bikes with training wheels they were really limited by the inherent clumsiness and slowness of a four-wheeled bike! Early this spring Elena made that leap into understanding balance, and biked on two wheels for the very first time.

 Clara was SO close, and we'll show the video here - she got the idea, she ALMOST got the balance.  But she was afraid to just go for it.  It took another month after this before she was able to bike on her own without training wheels.  And at that point we didn't record it (second-child syndrome for a twin - a first for us!).

Anyway, once she got it she really got it, and we had to move her up a size in her bike so that she could go fast the way that she wanted to. From July on we were able to bike together.  Most times this was around the neighborhood - like over to our local brewery, Kettlehouse.

 One evening in late summer we decided to try biking the mile and a half to downtown to get ice cream.  We had to go on big roads, using the bike lanes - nothing like our neighborhood biking.  But with Steve in the lead and Christina as caboose it went without a hitch.
 A rainbow even greeted us at our destination!  So great to be able to go out all together and get exercise and fun at the same time.
That's not the only biking we do, though.  Another local brewery we like, Draughtworks, has an event each year where you can ride this bike that is attached to a mill.  It grinds the hops that will be used in a seasonal brew, Chain Reaction.  This year all four of us biked for it - Clara and Elena are behind the little boy in the background looking to see how many hops Steve can grind.

Biking - so versatile!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Rings

Last year the big deal for Clara and Elena on their school playground was a contraption called "The Spider."  It is one of those metal structures that is a six foot high open dome, where you can climb up little ladders in one section and slide down poles in another section.  They felt so cool on that.

Well, that spider is old news.  The thing they are WILD about these days are the monkey bars and rings.  They beg to go to school all the time to play on them.  After school, before school, and weekends, too.  Clara, especially is adamant that she wants to go practice multiple times a day.  This is especially unfortunate, because while Elena can reach the first ring on her own Clara cannot.  And the rule at school is that no one can lift you.  So, even though Clara is only a half inch too short, and even though she can swing back and forth (six times without stopping, one day!) like nobody's business, she cannot do it unless we go with her.

So we go.  A LOT.  And they are thrilled.  Clara can skip two rings at a time, and Elena can skip three.  Elena can go back and forth several times without stopping, and Elena has a truly amazing dismount.  She is clearly part simian. 

These last two pictures have nothing to do with the rings, but lots to do with the sweet sisterhood that sometimes compels Elena to "sneakily" help Clara up to the rings.  These two really do love each other.
Sisters snuggling (Grandma, this is the blanket you sent that I made when I was 14!  Elena calls it the puffy blanket, and sleeps with it every night.  Thanks for saving it, finding it, and sending it!).

Losing Teeth

(Don't read this one, Grandma!  We know how you are squeamish about the teeth!).

We knew it was coming - it was inevitable.  These teeth we so suffered through these girls growing were going to come out.  Elena and Clara were desperately eager for it to happen.  They had been waiting through kindergarten as others lost teeth, repeatedly checking theirs for wiggliness.

Then, this summer, while we were out in a park for dinner, Elena's very loose tooth bent back while she ate some noodles.  She was in a bit of shock.  Christina, fearing she'd swallow it, plucked the tooth out of her mouth.  After a few ashen minutes Elena was exuberant.  She has since lost another tooth, and was similarly squeamish about it right after it came out, and then transitioned into her excitement.

Clara took another month or so to wiggle furiously every potentially loose tooth.  And then, one evening, after having had Christina try to pull it out several times, it was finally loose enough.  She showed no worry at all about the tooth - in fact, at one point before it was quite out she said: "This is the best night ever!  I have blood between my teeth!!!" 

Clara and Elena got a call a few months ago from the Tooth Fairy Office (neither Christina nor Steve had known that existed).  They asked Clara and Elena to pick names for their toothfairies (Clara's is Tinkerbell and Elena's is Jasmine) and got instructions on how to put their teeth out when they lost them.  Their toothfairies brought a few small gifts for the first tooth, with a note explaining that it was only for that first celebration, and afterwards it would be four quarters per tooth.  The toothfairies had also constructed pretty bracelets.  Each girl got one when she lost her first tooth, with a special diamond bead.  For every tooth they will also get a new sparkly bead to add to the bracelet. 

It has been a time of changes, that's for sure.  This is a pretty exciting one.

Horseback Riding

These girls have been talking about horseback riding lessons almost as long as they've been able to talk.  They've had plenty of pony-riding lessons, but we decided when they turned six it was time for the real deal.  For the past month or so they've been taking lessons at a stable just outside of town, Flying H.
They are just as giddy about it as you might expect.

 Every week we follow the same routine.  Their trainer, Christina, helps them 'catch' a horse for the lesson.  They lead the horse back to the posts.

 Then they brush the horses down to get them ready for all of their gear.

 Christina quizzes them on all the parts of the horse gear - from the throat latch to the cinch to the lead rope to the halter.  These girls are getting quite the equestrian vocabulary!

 Then they take the horses out to the arena (when it gets too much colder we'll have to move to the inside arena, but so far all of the lessons have been outdoors).

 They saddle up, and then they're off!

 Clara and Elena share a private lesson together.  The lesson is divided between activities the two of them do together (games like who can get their horse to stop the fastest, or simon says with horse moves worked in) and then individual instruction.  

 They've worked at navigating the horses between cones, barrels, and poles.  They've moved from walking to trotting, and are working on posting now.  They are usually really confident, though it is amazing given the ratio of their tiny bodies to those 1600 pound horses!

 So far Elena feels a little bit more at ease than Clara, but Clara got one of the older horses trotting when the instructor noted that she had never seen a child do that before.  Clara's frustration comes from wanting to do so much and knowing that getting the horse to listen to the commands of someone so tiny is hard.  Elena's confidence comes from her true belief that she can talk with the horses. 

We are all learning so much - about horses and each other.   It's a tremendous thing to see how capable Clara and Elena have shown themselves to be in such a short, short time.